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10 Jun, 2009 05:15

Condemnation over British far-right triumph in Europe elections

The far-right British National Party has won its two first ever seats in the European Parliament. The news has sparked a wave of anti-fascist protests in London and upset mainstream political groups.

Nearly a million voters turned out to support the British National Party, which runs on a platform of economic protectionism, withdrawal from the EU, and an immediate cessation of immigration. Now the BNP is off to Brussels. Leading figures in the Party gathered outside the Houses of Parliament building in London to refute what they call lies about their policies and backgrounds being spread by the press.

“Here the Guardian is repeating a lie which has been repeated now a few moments ago on BBC Radio 4 and again in other papers, as well as quoting Alistair Darling saying the BNP got fewer votes than last time. No it did not. Our vote increased from 808,000 to 943,000,” said Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party, in front of the gathered media.

However, the BNP’s open air media conference didn’t last too long. Within five minutes, the far-right party was swamped by anti-fascist protesters determined to stop the meeting and began pelting the BNP with eggs.

Being surrounded by the crush of protesters, Nick Griffin shouted “these people are organized by the Labour Party.”

Not long after the protestors interrupted proceedings, the BNP leader was bundled into a car, and promptly drove off. The protesters then regrouped and took the media spotlight themselves. They say the right to free speech shouldn’t extend to the BNP:

“I believe that somebody like Nick Griffin who thinks that the Holocaust didn’t happen is not an honest politician. He tells lies to win votes, and we have to expose those lies and stop him from standing as a normal politician,” says Wayman Bennett from the organization Unite Against Fascism.

Nearly a million voters in the UK don’t agree. In an election result that the UK’s mainstream political parties are calling “horrific”, the British National Party has won seats in the European Parliament for the first time. It comes against a backdrop of disillusionment with politics, with MPs across the board embroiled in a scandal over padded expense claims.

Virendra Sharma, a Labour MP, admits he and his colleagues are to blame for driving voters into the arms of the BNP, but he believes they will come back when they realise their mistake.

“This is the way that people think we can punish those political parties who failed to deliver the right policies, they will come back and say they made a mistake and they will come back to the mainstream politics,” says Virendra Sharma.

Politicians and demonstrators may have misjudged the British public. Calling the electorate misguided and ill-informed may not be the right way to win them back. Even though the BNP has been shunned by mainstream politics for its extreme views, it has still not disappeared. Nick Griffin, now an MEP, will be travelling to Brussels by the end of the week to begin promoting his far-right agenda.